Golden Gate Bridge to get anti-suicide netting

June 29, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

LOS ANGELES: Transportation authorities in California have agreed to fund anti-suicide netting beneath the Golden Gate Bridge to prevent people jumping to their death from the iconic landmark, an official said.

The Golden Gate’s management authority agreed to pay part of the $76m funding for the Golden Gate Bridge Physical Suicide Deterrent System Project.

The rest will be funded by the federal and state authorities, said Denis Mulligan, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.

Construction of the system, which will provide netting extending 20 feet on either side of the bridge, is due to be completed by 2018, he said.

The netting will be suspended 20 feet below the sidewalks which run along either side of the bridge, which is 1.7 miles long — making the total length of netting 3.5 miles long.

The bridge, with its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, has long been a destination for people seeking to end their lives. Since it opened in 1937, more than 1,400 people have plunged to their deaths, including a record 46 suicides last year, officials said.

The bridge’s board voted in 2008 to install a stainless steel net, rejecting other options, including raising the 1.2-metre-high railings.

Mulligan said: “Of all the alternatives, this has the least visual impact. If you drive across the bridge you will not see it. At the two vista points at the two ends you will notice it, because you will look out straight at it, along the length of the bridge,” he said, adding that: “On the sidewalk you will not notice it, unless you’re leaning way over the side.”

He said the bridge’s managers had been considering options for about a decade. 

“Several decades ago people didn’t have an understanding about suicide ... they didn’t talk about it. Our board today reflects our society, today we talk about suicide,” he said. 

He added: “In the last several years, many families who have lost young children and teenagers on the bridge have come and talked to our board about what it meant to them and their families and their children’s friends. 

“I think that has had an impact,” he said.